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Barack Obama opens up a clear policy difference with Hillary Clinton, a strategy toward the greater Middle East centered around an effort to forge a “grand bargain” with Iran. This doesn’t necessarily sound incredibly different from Clinton’s strategy of saying that the United States “should be prepared to offer Iran a carefully calibrated package of incentives,” but it’s pretty different. The difference, in particular, is that as Flynt Leverett has argued in a non-campaign context the “grand bargain” approach might work, whereas Clinton’s approach won’t work.

Zbigniew Brzezinski and other people in the Obama circle have long been advocates of this more sensible approach to Iran, but until now the subject has been considered to “hot” politically to touch. But now Obama’s going there and it’s a very good thing he is. This is what we should be debating in this country — strategy, not tactics. A diplomatic approach that doesn’t work followed by war is really not much better than a “rush to war”, what’s needed is a strategy that avoids war and advances the interests of the United States. And now Obama’s putting one on the table.

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